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84% of Kyoto's tourism facilities accept cashless payments, 33% see rise in sales: poll

A sign showing that credit cards, electronic money and other methods of cashless payments are accepted is seen at a souvenir shop in Shimogyo Ward in the ancient capital of Kyoto, in this photo taken on Aug. 30, 2019. (Mainichi/Kenji Yagura)

KYOTO -- Over 80% of tourism facilities and shops belonging to the Kyoto City Tourism Association have introduced cashless payments, and more than 30% have seen their sales increase, a survey conducted by the association has shown.

The group queried its members, including souvenir shops, eateries, accommodation facilities and cultural and tourism facilities, between February and March this year over cashless payments, and 889 of them responded.

The national government has stepped up efforts to promote the introduction of cashless payments using credit cards, electronic money and other methods on the occasion of the consumption tax increase from the current 8% to 10% in October.

Of the respondents, 83.8% have already introduced cashless payments and 8.2% are considering accepting credit cards, e-money and other similar forms of payment while 8% said they have no plan to do so.

By sector, 93.1% of accommodation facilities including hotels and Japanese-style inns allow their guests to pay by credit card, e-money or other similar methods while 90.8% of restaurants, coffee shops, bars and other eateries accept cashless payments.

Only 63.5% of cultural and tourism facilities accept credit cards and e-money, but the number of such facilities that have introduced cashless payments has increased by 46.4% over the past three years.

The tourism association concluded that efforts to accommodate the growing number of inbound tourists, such as a tie-up with Visa Inc., subsidies to tourism business operators that are introducing cashless payments, and an adoption of such payments at a shop it operates at Nijo Castle had been effective. The association hopes that the ongoing International Council of Museums conference in the ancient capital will give momentum to the further introduction of cashless payments.

The group estimates that the ratio of Kyoto tourism-related facilities that accept cashless payments will reach somewhere around 88% by 2022.

Among the respondents, 33.4% replied that they saw their sales rise after they began accepting credit cards, e-money or similar methods, 35.3% answered their sales remained unchanged and 28.8% said they were unsure, while a mere 2.5% responded that their sales declined.

An overwhelming majority, or 97.8% of the respondents, accept major credit cards including Visa, Mastercard and JCB; 39.1% e-money; 68.8% China's UnionPay; and 27.7% QR code-based payments. Roughly half of the establishments are considering expanding the scope of payment methods they accept, 39.1% are considering accepting domestic QR codes, 21.4% are exploring the possibility of allowing Chinese QR codes and 17.4% are mulling the introduction of e-money.

(Japanese original by Kenji Yagura, Kyoto Bureau)

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